Senator Collins Speaks from Senate Floor on Legislation She Introduced to Support Caregivers of Individuals with Alzheimer’s

Legislation would expand training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s and related dementias

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ floor statement

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) spoke from the Senate floor yesterday afternoon on the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act, legislation she introduced with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would expand training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“There are many families across our nation who know all too well the compassion, commitment, and endurance that it takes to be a caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” Senator Collins said from the Senate floor.  “Most important, caregivers enable many with Alzheimer’s disease to remain in the safety and comfort of their own homes.”

“It’s been estimated that nearly one out of two of the baby boomer generation reaching 85 will develop Alzheimer's if we are not successful with biomedical research,” Senator Collins continued.  “As a result, chances are that members of our generation will either be spending their golden years with Alzheimer's or caring for someone who has it. It is, therefore, imperative that we give our family caregivers the support that they need to provide high quality care.”

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act would authorize grants to public and non-profit organizations to expand training and support services that improve caregiver health and delay long-term care admissions by keeping patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in their homes longer.  The bill is supported by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Approximately 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease today, including 37,000 in Maine, and that number is soaring as our overall population grows older and lives longer.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15.9 million unpaid caregivers provided 18.1 billion hours of care valued at more than $221 billion in 2015.  These caregivers provide tremendous value, but they also face many challenges.  Many are employed and struggle to balance their work and caregiving responsibilities.  They may also be putting their own health at risk, since caregivers experience high levels of stress and have a greater incidence of chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and depression.  Last year, caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias shouldered $10.2 billion in health care costs related to the physical and emotional effects of caregiving.

Last year, Senator Collins introduced the RAISE Family Caregivers Act with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), which would establish a National Family Caregiving Project to develop and sustain a national strategy to support caregivers.  Moreover, earlier this year, Senator Collins co-signed a bipartisan letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging the agency to implement a program that fully evaluates how providing Alzheimer’s disease support services to caregivers would impact Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Senators Collins and Klobuchar also led a letter in January calling on President Obama to increase our nation’s funding for Alzheimer’s research as part of his fiscal year 2017 budget request.  Additionally, they introduced a Senate resolution declaring that the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's by 2025 is an "urgent national priority."